[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen will Lagos State be free of one man’s messianic mentality? Who will liberate the state from Bola Tinubu’s suffocating grip? Who will free Lagos, our dear Lagos, and its people from this modern-day slavery by one individual who is playing God? Is there no man courageous enough to fight the fight of his life to free Lagos from this imprisonment? Is every Lagosian a frightened coward, or just an impotent enabler of Tinubu’s overreach?
Is there no one man enough to tell Tinubu that enough is enough? Why are Lagosians sheepishly following this man whose moral standing and character have been called to question several times? Why must he continually be the one to decide who governs Lagos, or who holds any political office in the state? Who will free Lagosians and indeed Nigerians from Tinubu’s pomposity, insufferable arrogance, and self-enthralled breathtaking hypocrisy?
These questions are a clarion call to virtuous people of good conscience in Lagos to come together to save the state from Tinubu.
I have stated it repeatedly for all who have ears and a discerning mind that those parading the political landscape as progressives are actually tyrants, merchants of vices, moneychangers, buccaneers, primitive wealth accumulators, pretenders to transparency, pretender-democrats, heretics of good governance and smooth propagandists, extraordinary liars, agents of mischief and political malpractice.
Their antecedents are riddled with character flaws, pervasive vices and amorality. What they call a progressive ideology is actually a predatory ideology and what they call good governance is in fact kleptocracy. What is their purpose in politics? I have asked myself repeatedly what cause they believe in strongly enough that they are willing to lose for it. Is it about improving the welfare of the people or building empires of personal wealth?
The evidence is there before our very eyes that these so-called progressives are mostly corrupt and are in fact worse than those they accuse of corruption.
They deride selfless service in the mode of Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela and live ostentatious lifestyles while the poor masses live in penury and want. They have no core values, and their vision is limited to only the stretch of their arms.
These guys have tried many times to present themselves as philosophers but have failed repeatedly because they cannot be what they are not. They can never be heroes because they lack the discipline, the character and the broad vision of a new society of fairness, equity and justice associated with heroes and statesmen. At best, they represent the symbol of Nigeria’s immoral slide and degenerate social values. This is what they are and this is what they will remain in the minds of the few who still retain the values of our fathers.
Anytime I watch TV with my children, and they intrude our family time when they appear on air, I always tell my children never to see them as the nation’s heroes. I mention their names loudly and tell them stories of how they are looting public resources to advance their personal interests. I tell my children they are liars and propagandists and should not go near them.
Right now, no sound is louder than that of the battle between good and evil in our country. It may appear cynical but no moment is more telling than now, and nowhere are the contradictions and hypocrisies of the progressives more evident than what is currently happening in Lagos: Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the star performer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is being blackmailed by the so-called Mandate Movement made up of people who are strangers to the sensibilities of a highly cosmopolitan Lagos. He is being threatened with denial of a second term ticket by Tinubu’s Lagos APC.
As the saying goes, “In politics it is never enough to know that something has changed.” The “why” always matters more than the “what”. The curious thing is that the “why” is stranger than fiction. Tinubu did two terms without a challenge; his wife is going for a third term in the Senate without a challenge. Forget that talk that the race is open to any challenger. It’s all a fraud. Those comical members of the Governor’s Advisory Council have nothing against her third term bid even though there is not much on the ground to show she has performed.
You see, the selfish Mandate Movement is a group doing Tinubu’s bidding; nothing more, nothing less. The reason being given for the impending denial of a ticket to Ambode is not based on poor performance but on extraneous political infractions that underline the greed and vaunting desire of Tinubu for each succeeding administration to be his political appendage so that he can control who gets what and how without dissent.
Ask his followers what Ambode’s crimes are, they quickly detour into long winding monologues and pathetic incoherent platitudes of “oh he neglected party elders”, “he is not oiling the machinery that brought him to power enough”.
Some have even said it loud and clear that “it is not performance that wins elections” and all sorts of bizarre excuses that could make someone sick to their stomach just recalling them. In other words, Ambode’s original sin is that he has not opened the treasury enough to those who believe that public money should be shared among party leaders.
The tragedy here is that even though the governor is working to improve the state’s infrastructure, it does not matter to the corrupt-minded individuals masquerading as party leaders. Let no one make any mistake here, at the centre of the intrigues to deny Ambode the ticket is the state’s monthly internally generated revenue of about N35 billion. These party leaders want to get their hands on the money. He has to go because the godfather and his political minions are not getting enough. So it is not about the people anymore?
What has happened to those virtues that the APC cardinals had consistently laid claim to? Why is everybody silent in the face of this assault on our sensibilities? Is Tinubu now God? In other climes, advocates of good governance would pour into the streets in protests against these hypocrites. There is something inordinately peculiar about denying Ambode the ticket and it is beyond baffling to me. Now, can anybody explain to me why Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, a certified and self-evident failure, a colossal disaster by every measure deserved to do two terms with the active support of Tinubu while Ambode the only silver lining in the APC doesn’t?
Reports out there have it that Aregbesola, the head of Tinubu’s Mandate Movement, is staunchly opposed to Ambode’s re-election. Imagine a failed governor who owes workers in Osun 32 months’ salaries and pensions leading the charge to deny a performing governor the ticket for re-election? Can anyone beat that?
It is puzzling that this macabre dance of the APC cardinals which had started in hushed whispers, then transformed to improbable rumours, and were dismissed outright by many then as coming from the unhinged imagination of some comic actors is gradually becoming a reality. The show is playing out before our very eyes in a cold-blooded manner.
The orchestra is in overdrive and the list reads like a who’s who of Tinubu’s loyalists; they are keen to demonstrate their loyalty to the godfather. You know the old saying in the land of my fathers that if you “find a turtle on top of a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself”. There is no shortage of those willing to be used to flex muscles. It was the plot of the imperial godfather all along fuelled by his burning desire to appropriate Lagos.
Ironically, many are willing to obey him whether or not he uses the name of the people or party faithful in vain in pursuit of his agenda. Whether or not he uses the state and its resources to advance his private interests, some would just follow him like zombies. It is a strange way to live. Some would even deploy violence on anyone who disagrees with the master to coerce them into line. I hardly know whether to laugh or cry for our country.
It is a crying shame that despite the sophistication Lagosians often lay claim to, Tinubu whose political trajectory cannot pass the smell test has for two decades now, entrenched himself, controlling everything and determining the destiny of every politician in Lagos: from the ward level, to the local government, to who governs the state, the members of the State Executive Council, to all legislators and to all who represent it at the federal level. He must endorse all candidates for elections and appointments and influence nearly every contract.
While he had awarded a gold medal to former President Goodluck Jonathan in corruption (Jonathan does not have a private jet), he has not been able to explain his vast wealth. He owns two private jets and a vast real estate. How he acquired those jets has never been disclosed to the public. Tinubu recently boasted that Osun State does not have his kind of money. Yet, apart from serving as a governor for eight years, no one can associate him with entrepreneurship that could have earned him his vast wealth. He once boasted of giving former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko millions of pounds in pursuit of his quest to reclaim his mandate then. Where did the millions of pounds come from? Needless to remind Nigerians that the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu had once told the National Assembly that Tinubu’s corruption case had an “international dimension”.
Tinubu had been variously linked to Alpha Beta, whether this is true or not, we can’t say for sure. But despite being linked to the company, Tinubu has never issued a public denial of any sort. Just recently, Dapo Apara, a former Managing Director of the company which has held the exclusive rights to collect revenue for the Lagos State government for about 16 years, blew the whistle on the company, making earth shattering allegations of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering against it in a petition to the EFCC. The anti-graft agency, instead of moving swiftly to unravel the truth, has been slow-walking on the petition. All the anti-graft agency has said since June 2, 2018, when the petition was submitted to it, was that it was “evaluating it”.
Is it not strange that the EFCC that can’t wait for Governor Ayo Fayose who currently enjoys immunity to finish his term in office to interrogate him about his alleged crimes, is still evaluating a petition against Alpha Beta months after it had received it?
If actually Tinubu had shares in the company, it means he awarded the contract to collect the state’s revenue to a firm he had interest in while he was a sitting governor of the state. This will be serious. The corollary to this is that we have in our hands the greatest abuse of office and corruption in Nigeria’s history. It means he used his position as the governor then to corner lucrative government contracts for himself. Let us even explore further: first was there a tender for the contract? Did he declare his interest in the company? What does the law say about such conduct by a public officer?
Without a doubt Tinubu is the biggest “beneficiary” of our democracy having held Lagos hostage, politically raking in immense material rewards. Lagosians deserve to know the truth about Alpha Beta because what we are talking about runs into billions of naira of taxpayers’ money.
Well, I know for sure that at some point, real progress cannot begin and slavery cannot end until someone has the courage to drown the damned lion. It is either we continue to pay ransom, or we go to war with those who have held us hostage. The storm is coming for Tinubu and his Mandate Movement. The day of reckoning is near and Lagos shall be free! No one should beg Tinubu anymore, he is not God. He is what he is now because we have all played a part in enabling him. He is nothing without Lagosians.
In what should serve as food for thought and a warning shot to Tinubu and his lackey Mandate Movement, voters in Osun delivered a message to them despite the rigging carried out by the APC in cahoots with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The result of the election held last Saturday was an emphatic rejection of Tinubu and his failed APC. It once again confirmed what I have always said – that the Jagaban is at best overrated, and at the very minimum, waning in influence. He does not have the political reach attributed to him by his minions and admirers.
Is it not curious that those Tinubu’s camp perceive as disloyal and who they call Buhari’s boys, namely Kayode Fayemi and co., owing to their disagreement with Jagaban’s manner of politics are the ones who rallied to save Osun from falling into PDP’s hands and by extension Tinubu from personal and political humiliation? Osun is a forerunner of the groundswell building and coalescing against him and his Mandate Movement in Lagos. But like all men deluded by power, he can still convince himself of his invincibility; he can choose to be deaf and willfully blinded to the people’s message and pay a stiff price during next the elections.
Shaka Momodu is a columnist with ThisDay where this article was first published. He can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.